“We’ll share the soup. You want a beer or soda?” Their fight has lasted three days, she misses his affection. “My treat.” She reaches for her wallet.
“I’ll take a beer. Is the soup super spicy?” Spicy hot gives him heartburn. She doesn’t say anything, just orders the soup mild.
Tall windows allow the sun to warm the interior of the restaurant. There are no blinds. Walking to their table sipping on their beer they pass families and a few loners squinting as they eat. The kitchen being just behind the counter and cash register the bubbling on the stove and sizzling on the grill are loud.
“Want to sit here?”
She never asks. Something is definitely wrong. For ten minutes they’re both silent, then “so what’s going on?” “Nothing. Hope you like the soup.”
“I will and if I don’t I’ll still eat it. How’s nothing going on. When you can’t even look me in the eye.”
She takes a swig of her beer, crosses her arms, sets them on the table, leans forward and stares into his eyes. What was anger turned to sorrow when behind his eyes she spots his sadness. She looks down at her food. “You happy now. I looked you in the eyes.” She picks up her spoon and stirs her soup.
“Just tell me what’s wrong. Please” he says to her expecting her to look up and answer. She doesn’t. She stops her spoon at a chunk of meat, picks it up, holds in it front of her face and says “you went drinking with her.” She has another gulp of beer.
“I did, but only because you went out with your married friend from work. He cheats on his wife and brags about it.” That poor woman doesn’t suspect a thing. She looks up “So, and so what that I spent the night. I was drunk.”
His eyes tear up at the corners. So she doesn’t see he looks down at his bowl of mildly spicy fish soup. “This is pretty good. To be honest I didn’t think I was going to like it.” She smiles, but at her dish. Two years together and it’s the first time they go out for seafood. They chat as if it was their first date. “I want another beer he says.” On his way back from the counter he slows his pace. He admires her with every step and then snaps out of it when he remembers that right now it’s not a happy tale.
Almost done with her beer he asks if she would like another. She answers “no thank you” then returns her attention to her bowl. Still looking down at her food “I spent the night because I didn’t want to risk getting a ticket. I was drunk.”
“You should have called me to pick you up.” She swallows her mouthful. “I slept with him okay! I was drunk!”
A tear escapes and runs down his cheek. Now crying softly she raises her hand towards his face to wipe a tear. “Don’t touch me.” He gets up from the table and rushes to the restroom. He almost doesn’t make it to the toilet. He vomits.
All of their good times flashing in his head he wipes his mess off the toilet seat then his mouth. He returns to the table, tears leaving trails on his face. Also crying she looks up at him. Again he vomits only this time it doesn’t leave his mouth. “I’m sorry. I should have listened to you. I thought he was a true friend. I never thought he could or would even try to take advantage.” She clears her nostrils and wipes her face. He doesn’t sit, picks up his beer and in one long gulp he’s finished. As he turns to walk away looks down at her empty bowl and says “I thought he respected me as a friend, I’ve known him for over ten years. I’m so sorry.” Her tears are flowing “I love you, I’m sorry” she whispers.
As he puts on his sweater he remembers she bought it for him. “Bullshit. I don’t want this!” He takes it off and drops it on the floor and leaves the building.
The sun is starting to set. Shoes off he sits at shore. “So beautiful.” The ocean sparkling before the sun reminds him of how much he feels for her. He never believe in it, love at first sight, then he met her. They clicked.
An older woman passes in front of him and notices his tears. “Are you okay sir?”
“I don’t know.?” he says crying. “Did someone pass?” she wants to know.
“No, the woman I love with all that I am went out with a supposed friend, had too much to drink and ended up sleeping with him.”
“My husband died a week ago” she says. “I hated the beach, sand, it gets into everything. He loved it and barely knew how to swim.” She laughs. “Now all of the sudden I love it too. I feel him when I’m here.”
“Sudden heart attack.”
She dabs her tears with the collar of her shirt. “Try to forgive her. If she told you it’s probably because it wasn’t her intention.”
“She talked about him, that he would tell her about how he’s cheated on his wife.” his tears now dry on his face.
The woman turns to face the sun. “I’ll always love you” she says.
She turns back around “don’t think, feel” and continues her walk. “Bye.”
He picks up his legs and hugs his knees and watches the sun disappear. “I can’t believe this.”
People are looking now. Not often one sees a grown man cry. Some ask if he’s okay as they pass him on the boardwalk. “I’m fine.” She’s still sitting in the restaurant still crying. He doesn’t stop.
Four long street blocks later the bus is pulling up to the stop. He reaches for his wallet to pull his bus pass. “What! where is it?” It’s no longer in his pocket. He runs back to the beach. The sound of someone running past catches Jan’s attention. She raises her head sees him, grabs her things including his sweater and rushes after him. She yells out to him “what happened? why you running? He hears her but doesn’t reply.
Now at the location where he remembers sitting he uses the flashlight on his phone to scan the sand. “Fuck!” he yells “This is all I need right now!”
“Victor! What’s wrong?”
“I can’t find my wallet!” Both of them search and find nothing. Someone found it.
“I’m sorry about your wallet. I’ll take you home.” He follows.
While driving he cancels all his cards. “I’m sorry Victor. I was wrong about Derek.”
“Thanks for helping me look. And for the ride home.”
“Please don’t hate me.”
His silence makes her cry again.
Home. He slams the door and the tears begin to flow again.
“It was the wallet you gave me for my birthday. Good bye Jan.”